Retail Jargon

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Having been around retail for a while, I’m amused at the “jargon” that has evolved over the years and much of it is the same no matter which company you work for.   A lot of it might have to do with being politically correct, but it’s amazing how differently they now say something so simple.  Such as…

“I’ll bubble that up”–we used to say “I’ll tell my boss” but now we “bubble” things.  No clue how this one got started, but maybe it has to do with the “bubbles” that are phones when you text someone?

“Have a huddle with your employees”–what happened to “have a meeting?” I guess it’s because most stores don’t have ENOUGH employees to have what would be called a meeting.  So now you just huddle with them.  But isn’t a huddle 11 players in football?  No one has 11 employees to huddle with.  Maybe it should just be a chit-chat instead of a huddle.

“Align your team”–apparently this translates to “tell everyone the rules we’ve made and make sure they’re doing them.”  It sounds more like you’re working with a bunch of acrobats.

“Give them a coach and counseling”–now this one is definitely politically correct, we used to just WRITE THEM UP, usually it was called a WRITTEN WARNING.    I seriously doubt that anyone who gets called into the office and asked to sign a form because they’ve been tardy too often feels like they’re getting “coached” or “counselled.”  And of course you won’t get fired, you’ll get terminated.  Terminated sounds so much nicer. Unless your boss is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I’ll reach out to Mary about this”–no, you’re actually going to talk to Mary, text Mary or email Mary.  But i don’t think you’re going to reach out to her.  That would probably be sexual harassment, depending on where you reached.

“Zone the Store”–actually, this one has MANY variations.  We used to just say “straighten the store” or maybe “face the store” since you were facing all the product to the front of the shelf.  But if you work for Walmart, you Zone the Store.   If you work for Staples, you Block the Store.  In other stores, you Condition the Store. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing somewhere you also Shampoo The Store.  Maybe everyone should just be consistent with this one and just say “Make the store look better.”

“Shag some carts”–oh please.  Just get the damn carts from the parking lot.

“Welcome our guests”— Oh, you mean our customers?   They’re not MY guests, I sure as hell wouldn’t invite some of these people into my place.  I’d at least ask them to shave and shower first and put on some decent clothes.  Nope, they’re customers, and usually also shoppers.

“Engage your staff”/ “Employee engagement”–we used to just keep our employees happy.  Now we have to keep them engaged.  I hope we don’t have to buy them rings.


It’s not only in retail, it’s in business in general–there’s a good list of business jargon here.